Gains in women’s rights haven’t made women happier. Why is that?

Mar 20, 2017 by

by Anna Petherick, Guardian:

Women are outliving men in every country in the world, despite facing higher levels of poverty than men, greater odds of encountering sexual violence and many additional, diverse forms of discrimination.

But while women are living longer, it’s unclear whether their wellbeing is showing comparable strides. As women gain political, economic and social freedoms, one would expect that they should feel even more contented relative to men. But this isn’t so.

The “paradox of declining female happiness” was pointed out by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, who also happen to share a house and kids. They analyzed the happiness trends of US citizens between 1970 and 2005 and found a surprising result.

Stevenson and Wolfers discovered that American women rated their overall life satisfaction higher than men in the 1970s. Thereafter, women’s happiness scores decreased while men’s scores stayed roughly stable. By the 1990s, women were less happy than men. This relative unhappiness softened after the turn of the century, but men continue to enjoy a higher sense of subjective wellbeing that is at least as high — if not higher — than women’s.

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